Friday, August 12, 2011

How Am I Doin'?

     Ed Koch, mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, was famous for meeting people on the street and asking them, "How am I doin'?"

     Perhaps when he started he was fishing for compliments, I don't know, but that's certainly not what he got. What he got was an earful. But Mayor Koch was a tough New Yorker and could take some criticism, and soon it became his trademark: "How am I doin.?" And that's how he found out what people were thinking, what issues they were concerned about.

     Well, to bawdlerize a famous political line -- If you knew Ed Koch, you'd know that I am no Ed Koch.

     Nevertheless, the other day I noticed that I passed the 10,000-all-time-page-view mark on my blog. I've been blogging for a little less than ten months, so I don't know if 10,000 views is good or bad, or about average. (Do we have to be competitive?) But I thought it seemed an appropriate time to pause and consider what I'm doing here.

     As might be expected, I started slow, with barely a hundred page views the first month, then gradually built up my views, according to blogger stats -- which may or may not be accurate, but no, I do not count my own page views -- to a little over 2,000 views per month. I slacked off my blogging a bit in June, since I was busy doing an assignment for which I was actually being paid, and I fell back to about 1,500 a month. Now I'm back up to about 1,800. I might fall back again in September, though, since I have another paying job coming up which will cut into my blogging time for a while.

     I don't know why I've focused on the views per month, rather than all-time views, or views per week. I guess I figure the monthly numbers smooth out short-term fluctuations that may have nothing to do with my blog and give me an overall trend. I really have no basis to compare. What figures do other bloggers use to size up the response to their blogs?

     Aside from overall views, I've noticed that some subject matters get more response than others. For example, when I post a "memoir" -- some reminiscence from when I was a kid -- I don't seem to get that many views. People who do check out these posts seem to like them; but the items just don't draw as many viewers. That shouldn't be surprising. Why would anyone else care what I was doing when I was a child? But still and all, I like to write them, so I'll keep on doing them now and then.

     I hit on the idea of doing a series called "Remember Him?" and "Remember Her?" from some site that pops up on either aol or yahoo! called "Memba Them?" The site posts then-and-now photos of Hollywood personalities, usually minor stars from long-ago TV shows. Some of the photos are mug shots, and it's a pretty cheesy site, but it gave me the idea to look back at some of the memorable luminaries of our youth so we can reflect on their significance in our lives -- and then I thought if I made a kind of "game" of it, presumably it would be more fun. I notice that these posts have become more popular, the more I do them. So I hope people are catching on, and enjoying them.

     The most popular posts I've done have had the word "Retirement" in the title, or "Social Security." I suppose that shouldn't be surprising, since I'm putting up this blog for like-minded individuals who are in my own demographic group -- retired or semi-retired people in their mid-50s or older. I don't have any special expertise on this subject, except I do have a business degree so I know a little bit about money -- and also, I've done a lot of reading on the subject because, like you, I am actually going through the process. And there's nothing to focus your attention on something like going through the process.

     I did notice, however, that the single post with the most views is not about money or retirement, but about an issue that's perhaps political, or social, or maybe ethical. It posed the question:  Do you think success is basically due to luck? Or is success achieved primarily through personal effort? And it posits that how you answer that question goes a long way toward determining what your political point of view is. By the way, although a lot of people were interested enough to read the post, not everyone agreed with my premise. That's okay. I don't blog just to have people agree with me. In fact, some of the most intriguing comments on my blog posts have been those questioning my argument or my conclusion. I hope other bloggers feel the same way.

     As I said, I find the best comments are either those that disagree with me, or else those that add something -- some fact or point of view -- that I hadn't thought of before, or else a few times when people have given me helpful advice about my dental problem, or the issue I had renting my condo, or when my computer went kerplooey. Because blogging is not just a writing experience, it's a learning experience, and I have definitely been impressed with the quality of the blogs I've run across, from some impressive people with backgrounds involving writing books, reporting for newspapers, appearing on TV, working in finance or for the government or as a teacher.

     But even more than the reading and writing of blogs, I've enjoyed the back-and-forth conversations with a bunch of different people from all over the country -- even all over the world. I like trading views with bloggers from Ohio, Virginia, Florida,  the Carolinas, as well as Arizona, New Mexico, California, Oregon, and Canada, the UK and Germany.

     Finally, when I go on my "Pageviews by Country" I really get a charge out of seeing a smattering of people checking out my blog from Indonesia, Australia, India and Russia. Russia ... imagine that!

     So hello to Russia, from a guy who as a little kid used to sit under his desk at school when there was an air raid drill, a guy who had a grandfather who may or may not have immigrated from Russia (he was a pretty shadowy character, but that's a whole other story), a guy who's never been within a thousand miles of Russia but who likes the idea of reaching across the world and saying, "Hi!"


Linda said...

I'm afraid I got hung-up on the question of whether success is mostly luck or personal effort. It is luck. Those who are successful would probably say both, but I think it is all luck and timing with a bit of knowing what you want.

I'm happy I found your blog and will keep reading. It is so intriguing to be able to hear from so many different people all over the world, and I must say I've learned a lot since I began blogging only a few months back.

Douglas said...

Sometimes page views are deceptive. For instance, I have found that certain images increase page views but they aren't there to read the article. They were primarily attracted by the image. For some reason that I cannot fathom, I get a number of "hits" for the entire month of May, 2009. But especially for Random Musings for May [] Ok, that one isn't hard to figure out.

I have always felt (and, therefore, I am often disappointed) that comments are good indicators of effectiveness. That is, posts which generate a lot of comments mean I have piqued curiosity and triggered emotional reactions.

BTW, I vote for "personal effort." Certainly luck is a factor but the question was what is "mostly" involved. Anyone can open a business, for example, but to succeed one needs to work quite hard. I think those that see "luck" as the important factor see life as much more random and may see themselves at the mercy of chance. (I suspect I know which political party they would gravitate toward and where on the political spectrum their personal philosophy would fall.)

You are doing a great job, Tom. Don't worry about measurements. said...

Retirement is a hot topic for those about to do it. I enjoyed the posts where you write about money. Some of us have already retired and know somwhing about the retiremnt scene, and we can compare notes. Also, what do you do when you aren't blogging, going to the dentist, or working? I liked your little boy story about the fountain pen. But then I was a Mom to little boys once.

Kay Dennison said...

I don't really worry about numbers. My blog is mine and I enjoy my readers. Some are regulars and have become great friends; some don't comment at all.

I think you are doing great and I enjoy your blog and your visits to my place!!!!

Keep on blogging!!!!!!!

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

Tom, I read all your posts eagerly and enjoy each one -- a memoir piece, a political point of view, a Remember When or anything about retirement. I think you're doing wonderfully!

I started my blog the last week of October last year and so I'm fairly new to this, too. Lately, I've been averaging 1,850-1950 pageviews per month and have 9, 200 all time pageviews. I don't know how that really compares with others, but I'm pleased, too, to see people checking in from all over the world. Like you, I started very slow. Maybe 100 pageviews per month and gradually built up, with the real change coming about March or April.

I've found that my most popular posts -- in terms of pageviews -- are either about parenting adult children or retirement planning. But, if measured in terms of comments, I'd say that the memoir style posts win out. So I guess it depends on one's definition of blogging success.

I've come to value comments over pageviews. I so enjoy the insights and love the connection to others.

MerCyn said...

Getting and keeping readers engaged is a key goal for bloggers interested in long-term success. Finding a successful formula is a combination of trial-and-error, luck, experience, patience and who knows what else...Keep up the great work.

Dick Klade said...

You write well, post regularly, and present lots of interesting subject matter. That's what counts and makes your blog successful. Readership according to counter is nice, but not the most important factor. I also have a Russian reader, and get a warm fuzzy every time I see that flag on the map, but it has nothing to do with influencing what I write.

Home-Grown Marketers said...

There's something about your blog I REALLY LIKE. It's a tone, I think. You're candid & thoughtful. It's had to define, but your blog "works". ~ Nancy Mehegan Vaboomer blog